How can I connect with my dog’s mind?

How can I connect with my dog’s mind - without losing my own! There are many ways to help your worrisome dog, and we can support you through it all | FREE COURSE! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Teaching people how to understand their dog. This is my aim!I aim to improve the lot of the dog while employing my particular talents and abilities. I can’t do it all, and there are aspects of dog-help that are quite outside my character. Rescue, for instance. I couldn’t do it. I’d be in a permanent state of meltdown! More power to those who can cover those areas.

So to reach our friend the dog in a meaningful and impactful way, I had to narrow down what I’m good at. And that means teaching people how to get the results they want by showing them a new way to reach their dog’s mind.

Does it work - Yes! 

Do people get good results - OH YES!

 

My course students are rocking it!

Have a look at a few very recent student comments. Some are from emails to me, but a lot of these come from the vibrant communities set up for the courses. These are a source of continual help and support (and fun!) for the students, who no longer feel isolated or insufficient!

“I think the biggest change is in myself as I feel so much calmer and more confident.” Growly Course

“Me and George always had a special bond but it has just got stronger since starting this course, thankyou thankyou.” Growly Course

“I used to dread taking him and now I can enjoy it! Thanks Beverley, your training has really made a difference.” Growly Course

“Beverley Courtney, YES, has given us tools to use and I'm forever grateful.” Growly Course

“To be honest, our growly girl is MUCH less growly now!! … my theory is her impulse control is tons better, and also her focusing (on me) when we are out, plus we are BOTH much more relaxed.” Challenging Dog Course

“Hello all, my dog and I continue our slow and comfortable progress, by far improved is our happiness and relaxation together when out and about, I see a shift in his attention … NO has left our vocabulary.” Growly Course

“Your emails and advice are awesome and our 8 month old Lab has grown so beautifully. Your course has taught us so much and training our puppy has been one of the best experiences of my life.”  Free email course

“Thank goodness I found this course and this group. I cannot thank you enough Beverley, I've got lots to learn. It's almost as if my dog already knows it, he has just been waiting for me to catch on hahaha.” Growly Course

Is your dog ready to learn? And do you know how best to teach him, in a dog-friendly way? Find out in this post! | FREE COURSE! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

“Your focus on self-improvement for the human and choices for the dog chimes very much with me. Your approach and content has helped me a lot as I was feeling a little low and worried that I couldn’t help Dougie overcome his fears. In 5 days I have seen some big improvements for us both …”  Free Growly Workshop

“I cannot believe, in such a short space of time, how well my Working Cocker Spaniel has responded to lead training. I thought calming this little lady would be impossible to achieve. She's 4 years of age and walking out is completely new to her, hence my doubting I could cope. Now I know I CAN cope!! This new confident feeling propels me to want to do more and more to help her. She's so responsive to your methods - no stress, no hard work, 'simplicity in action'. Thank you!”  Growly Course

“I am really enjoying the 5 day course and have loved the enjoyable time with my young dog with no tricky walks, and more understanding. I have learned a lot and realise how much tension I must have unwittingly passed on to my dog. Thank you for everything so far. You’ve given us a new start.” Free Growly Workshop

“I wanted you all to know how much your support has helped my relationship with my beautifully amazing puppy. Xxx” Wild Puppy Course

“Thank you for sending me such useful materials. You are a breath of fresh air!” free email course

Looking forward to your classes - that non-professionals can understand!” Growly Course

“Think you are a great teacher and loving everything so far” Free Dog/Puppy Workshop

“I love your methods of teaching us humans and our dogs.” Email course

“Thank you so much. Hunter and I have both really enjoyed the training. I really can’t believe what a difference it has made in such a short time and I really feel like I have a connection with him now.Free Dog/Puppy Workshop

“I've really enjoyed the five days of videos, it’s given me so much to work with. I'm seeing results already and I can see what you teach makes so much sense.” Free Dog/Puppy Workshop

 

We can’t do it all alone. We need help - we need guidance and we need people who will help us along the path.

◦   When we’re down we need scooping up and setting going again.

◦   When we’re delighted we need someone to share our joy.

◦   And when we doubt ourselves, we need someone we trust to guide us.

 

I want to change the world - one dog at a time!

 

Will you join me?

 

Resources

Growly Dog Course

Challenging Dog Course

Wild Puppy Course

Free Growly Dog Workshop

Free email course? Right here:

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

   

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I have a difficult dog - How can I get a break?

Lacy barking in the field.png

If there’s one thing Growly Dog owners know - it’s that sometimes you just need a break!

However much you love your gorgeous darling reactive dog, it has the potential to become wearing. You don’t want your dog to become a burden! So taking a break, whether for work or pleasure, can let you see how the other half lives while reinforcing your good feelings for your dog - Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

A change can also be a good thing, so holidaying with your pet is way up there on the to-do list for many reactive dog-owners. And it may not be as difficult as you think!

How to get a holiday at all

As I have four dogs, holidays in hotels and b&b’s - though possible in theory - really were not fun. All this changed when I got a campervan and I’m now able to swan off with my dogs to all sorts of interesting places - beaches, forests, fields, moors - and enjoy the trip thoroughly.

No campervan? You can rent one!

There are also many places - certainly in the UK - where you can rent a holiday cottage in the depths of the countryside, and dogs are welcome. They often have a well-fenced garden and ready access to walking country, though you’d need to check that first. For me that’s definitely the second-best thing to the van (well, first-best thing in the depths of winter!), and I’ve been introduced to some great new places to explore that way.

So holidaying with your dog, even a very reactive one, is definitely possible. And I know that lots of people set off with some misgivings, only to find that the whole family has a wonderful stress-free time - including, sometimes much to their surprise, their dog!

What about when I can’t take my reactive dog?

But what happens if you can’t take your dog with you and you have to travel? This was me recently, with a business trip. I was fortunate in that I know an amazing place where dogs - especially reactive dogs - are not just welcome, but thoroughly catered for and pampered. It’s not near me - I have to travel two hours to get there - but is it worth it? Heck, yes!

The comfort I get from knowing my precious dogs are in safe hands, with someone who absolutely understands their needs, their individuality, their fears, is priceless. And, of course, this 5* treatment is not cheap. But how much value do you put on your dog’s safety and your own peace of mind?

Now I know a safe place for them, I need have no qualms about future trips away from them.

Previously I would only be away for a day. Then I’d get a carefully-chosen dog minder to visit them two or three times in the day. I didn’t want them walked, just given a break, let out, and played with. This works very well for me, but is limited to just the one day - and a minder who they’ve met and “approved”!

“My dog is such a tie”

So don’t let the fact that your dog does not strew rose petals and rainbows wherever she goes prevent you from taking a holiday - with or without her.

The time to do your research is now, not five minutes before you want to go. You’ll have time to seek advice, check out the places, and carefully get to know the person who will be caring for your dogs.

You’ll have some searching questions if you’re leaving your dog with someone else, and you need to get those questions answered thoroughly. In the case of the place my dogs stayed at, several visits beforehand are a part of the package, so your dog isn’t dumped in a strange place with strangers, and so that you can check out the carer and the premises.

You can see the bond they developed with Clair in this video of the welcome they gave me on my return. They kept running back to her (with the camera) to tell her the exciting news! This is one of many videos and photos sent to me, most while I was away.

 

My dog is busybusy all day long and never stops!

Help! My dog is busybusy all day long. How can I get him to calm down? | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

You may enjoy your dog keeping you company all day - but if your lifestyle is very active and busy you’re actually not helping him! Like toddlers, dogs need to have naps and calm periods built into their day. They are crepuscular beasties - which means they are most alert at twilight, their ancestral hunting time.

And just like toddlers, not getting these vital rest periods will result in disturbed behaviour. For your dog this means that he’s much shorter-tempered, easily agitated, hard to reason with.

This is making your life much harder than necessary! And if you are blessed with a Growly Dog who is already disposed to reactivity, fear, anxiety, or aggression, you can 10x that!

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for calming down your life with your dog!

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And as we know that stress is the silent killer for humans, so it can be for dogs, predisposing them to ailments that they are unable to resist.

I wrote about sleep and puppy-biting a while ago. And I’m revisiting this subject because it is SOOOO important, and so seldom understood!

So how can you curb your frantic dog’s activity and improve life for both of you?

Bedtimes

The first thing to do is establish sleeping areas in the home where your dog can sleep without being disturbed. So rather than letting your puppy crash where he runs out of steam, always transfer him to his crate or bed. Build these sleep-places into your day from the start.

Protected sleep times are also important to build in from Day 1. My dogs are all adult, and as I write they are all in or on various beds near me. They sleep while I work (lucky them!). This pattern of “when nothing’s happening you need to sleep” is carefully baked in from the day the puppy arrives with me.

A puppy who’s been awake for more than an hour or so needs to go to bed!

But you can still teach an older dog this way of life, even if there are established patterns of lunacy!

Teaching an older dog to rest

How much sleep should a healthy dog have? You may be surprised to find that it’s A LOT! This post will explain it to you, and how to achieve the right level for your dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Here’s an extract from my book series Essential Skills for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog which you can find here. I’m repeating it here because it illustrates so well how quickly you can influence some of your dog’s behaviours when you approach it the right way.

“I was visiting a very caring couple who had brought their young rescue collie Tim to classes when they first got him. I was glad they’d got in touch again, because the young dog was very fearful and couldn’t cope well with life. We arranged a visit.

While there, it became clear that this hyperactive dog was wearing himself out. For the first twenty minutes of my visit he never stopped. He raced in and out of the room, jumped up my front, my back, chewed my hair, poked the other dog, ran off again, paced … never rested.

So I quickly amended my training plan to include some relaxation work. After some active games to get Tim to engage with me, I started teaching him to slow down and relax. After just five minutes of this, his owner expressed amazement at seeing her frantic dog actually lying down still for more than ten seconds at a time!

When I finished the short session and released him, what did he do? Do you think he went straight back into busybusy mode, panting and racing?

Nope. He just slid onto the floor beside us, and as he lay there his head started to loll, his eyelids drooped, and he was … asleep!

To the total astonishment of his owner, who had never seen him sleep in the day!

So how much sleep should Tim be having?

Did you know that dogs need to have an average seventeen hours of sleep a day to work at their optimum level with the least amount of stress?

Seventeen hours.

I can hear you all saying, “My dog never sleeps that much.”

Well, it’s seventeen hours for adult dogs - obviously more for puppies. And some dogs need to be helped to achieve this total.

Tim had had a poor start in life before his present owners took him in and gave him a secure and loving home. So he’d developed habits of nervous and stressy behaviour which had stuck with him. Showing him how to relax transformed him in just a few short minutes and allowed him to get some much-needed rest.

His owners are carrying on this work with him, and it will make all the other things we have to teach him so much easier.”

Calm

Want to know what I did to relax this hyper dog? To get the exact program, work through the first book in the Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog series: Calm Down! Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed, and Brilliant Family Dog It’s free at all e-book stores, and also available in paperback online and you can order it from any good bookshop. Quite apart from the usefulness of this skill for any dog, anywhere, if you have a reactive dog it will hugely benefit him.

Be aware that teaching calm and relaxation is not teaching a stay exercise with the traditional stern shouting and finger-waving! (Although, curiously, you will get a solid stay as a result.)

The object is quite different - to change your dog’s mental state, not to anchor his physical position.

Learning how to switch off can also help with Separation Anxiety. If this is an area of distress for your dog, you could do with going through a whole protocol to make positive changes. This book by Patricia McConnell has a step-by-step program. It’s not an overnight fix, and few people in my experience can be bothered to resolve this issue for their poor dog - unless he’s destroying the house and defecating all over the carpet. But think how much happier you’ll all be if instead of agitated pacing when you’re out, you just get peaceful snoozing.

I’ll also mention the Relaxation Protocol. (These audios have been generously provided by Roxanne Hawn and are free to download.) This is a program which takes incremental steps from frantic non-resting dog to chilled-out dog with a lower heart-rate and dreamy feelings of comfort and relaxation.

It’s a simple program: you don’t have to do Day 1 only on Day 1 - repeat each “Day” till you have it right, then move on to the next “Day”. I choose to have the dog lying down for this - more conducive to dozing. It takes time, yes, but it’s time well spent helping your dog destress. You’ll feel as if you’ve had a relaxation session yourself when it’s over!

It’s worth getting started on it to help your dog access the calm side of his mind, which he may have lost sight of in his anxiety. Again, few people in my experience follow through on this and complete the cycle in several different places. But those who do get MASSIVE improvement! It’s especially useful for the never-resting dog, the hyper dog, the anxious or fearful dog, your Growly Dog.

For plenty more tips on getting the best out of your relationship with your dog, get this free 8-part email course

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Moving house with your dog!

Moving house with your dog (and cat)? Make life easy for yourselves with some forward planning | FREE EMAIL TIPS | #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats, #travellingwithpets, #movinghouseanddogs, #dogtraining, | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

They say that moving house is one of the most stressful things ever - up there with death and divorce.

Having just moved house, I can tell you this is true! Unfortunately there was an incompetent solicitor in the chain who slowed things down by a whole month, day by day, week by week. So everyone involved was very fraught. This didn’t help my dogs.

As we know, dogs are so sensitive. They pick up our moods and worries. Along with all the upheaval of clearing out, getting rid of stuff, and moving everything around the house, this gave them an unsettled few weeks too.

I’m fortunate that my campervan is fully kitted out for the dogs, so it was easy enough to park them in there and move the van out of the drive when the packers and movers were at work. A friend who is moving this week is taking her anxious dog to an excellent kennels for a few days. He’s been happy there before, so by the time he arrives in the new home it’ll all be safely fenced and ready. It’s important that at this time of upheaval you keep everything as stable and familiar as possible.

Get your free email course to help you with lots of doggy problems

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As mine was a long-distance move, we “camped out” in the new house till all our belongings arrived two days later. I’ve never been happier to see my bed! (Likewise Cricket the Whippet, who was in it before you could say “woppit”.)

Having spent a couple of months in Limbo with all the delays - never knowing where anything was - I was determined to unpack the boxes as fast as possible. So by Monday it was virtually all done, and the boxes recycled to a couple of other home-movers.

The house began to look like a home!

Sniffing about

We all know how important the dog’s sense of smell is. A third of their brain is dedicated to this sense, which is infinitely superior to ours. So my dogs spent plenty of time in the new house sniffing boxes, furniture, objects - and importantly their beds - and feeling at home.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the one who was easiest to manage was my cat Squeak. Squeak has always been a half-outdoor cat, and never used a litter box. She is an intrepid explorer and joins me and the dogs on walks now and then.

All the books and sites say you have to keep your cat in for weeks when you move. No chance! I had thought I’d have to capture her before the moving men arrived and keep her crated till we arrived here (that would be around 10 hours captivity), but as she got on so well - watching curiously as the strange men packed everything in the house a couple of days before - I decided to wait till the vans had left. This paid off, and she only had to spend the journey-time in the crate (about 5 hours).

The minute we arrived in the empty house, the dogs and cat were free to explore the garden. We all froze at night - having to leave a window open with a chair and bin outside to help Squeak get in and out - till a catflap was put in the door.

Squeak had no trouble with this arrangement, and has settled into her new home straight away, seamlessly.

Clingy dogs

Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

Four dogs and one cat get as close to me as possible when I finally hit the armchair on moving day!

The dogs, on the other hand, stayed unsettled for a good few days. Wherever I went, four sets of paws pattered after me - just in case I should escape!

Lying on top of me or round my feet was considered a good strategy for anchoring me.

After a week they’re much more relaxed, and used to the new practices here.

New house rules

As there’s a public footpath running alongside the garden, and as I have two reactive dogs (!), we are learning to ignore the sounds of the occasional walker + dog going by. This needs careful work from the outset in a new home. The last thing you want is a habit of fence-barking or fence-running to establish itself - that’s much harder to eradicate than to prevent.

So I am always armed with treats when in the garden (when am I ever not armed with treats?) and the dogs are never out there alone. I’m ready for the moment one alerts to the sound of a passer-by and we move straight into our lesson: those people may be ignored, they’re not coming in here, they’re allowed on the path. You just enjoy these treats instead.

What I’m doing is technically known as counter-conditioning. I’m changing the dogs’ emotional response to the thing they’re afraid of, so that they no longer feel the need to fear it. Repetition and consistency are key.

They didn’t bark at the (much closer) neighbours in our last house, because they were used to them, they were predictable. So it’s only a matter of time before they pass no remarks when the gravel crunches beside our new garden.

And almost the first thing I did was to spend 15 minutes putting window film on part of the front windows, so that the dogs needn’t feel threatened by every passer-by. If you have a reactive dog - you need window film!

How to move house and pets easily

Are you and your dog moving home soon? Make life easy for both of you with some forward planning | FREE EMAIL TIPS | #dogbehavior, #dogsandcats, #travellingwithpets, #movinghouseanddogs, #dogtraining, | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So you can see that to have a successful house-move you have to consider the animals well in advance. Mine are used to going to strange new places in the campervan, and know the van is their base when we’re on the move. They are comfortable in their beds there, and know that dinner will still arrive! They’ve also had short stays in holiday cottages.

My friend’s dog was well used to the kennels she used. It’s no use just whamming your dog in kennels if he’s never been there before! With all the upheavals and anxiety at home associated with the forthcoming move he’s likely to feel very lost and upset.

As mine was a long-distance move, kennels were not an option for me. And in any case, I felt sure that all five of my companions would be happier being with me, however strange it may all be.

So include your pets in your moving plans from the start. It will all be worth it when you are settled in your new home!

Brilliant Family Dog and Good for Dogs!

In case you’re wondering, this move does not in any way affect Brilliant Family Dog. All the courses, both free and paid, are running as usual. I am in the private course groups daily with guidance and support - as usual.

The Wiggles Wags and Whiskers Freedom Harnesses and Leads are still available at www.goodfordogs.co.uk/products as usual.

The only change is to Good for Dogs!, my erstwhile dog training school on the ground in Worcestershire. This has, of course, closed there, but will be reopening here in Norfolk! Group classes will begin next year, while 1-1 sessions with anxious, fearful, aggressive, reactive, “growly”, dogs will start almost immediately.

As one Gloucestershire student put it,

Hi Beverley, The other side of the country will gain a fab dog trainer but sadly our loss.

I fully intend to live up to that charming remark, and bring force-free, dog-friendly, dog training to the good people (and their slightly less good!) dogs here in Norfolk.

I’d like to thank so many of you for your thoughts and well wishes for my move!

Please keep in touch. I will still be able to help all my past students, even though further away.

ZZZs are worth £££s and $$$s

How much does my puppy need to sleep? Most people are shocked to hear this answer! Check it out and instantly get a calmer, nip-free home | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppynipping, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

“You have to help us - he’s shredding our hands,” wailed the girl on the phone. 

“He just goes mad - he’s vicious!

She was talking about her new puppy - a Cocker Spaniel crossed with a Poodle (a difficult mix at the best of times). I asked the puppy’s age. 

“He’s eleven weeks. OW! Scamp, NO! Get off! Oh no, my jumper …”

 “How long has Scamp been awake?” I asked.

“Only three hours,” she replied.

“Then there’s your problem. Put him straight to bed. Now.”

With a puppy as young as Scamp, one hour of being awake is usually quite enough. Time to put him away in his crate for a ziz. 

Get your free guide, learn how to stop that nipping, and start loving your puppy again!!

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With my latest puppy Coco, I would shut him in his crate at nap time, put a blanket over the top and three sides to make a cosy den, leave the room and shut the door. There’d be a bone or chew toy if he felt the need to do something. If there was a lot of noise outside I would play soothing music to mask it.

Any noise from the puppy before falling asleep would be totally ignored, so he quickly didn’t bother to make any. If your puppy is bored, sleep will soon waft over him!

When I returned a couple of hours later, my blissfully relaxed puppy would be stretching and smiling and ready to start the adventure again. Check out this piece for exactly how to achieve this blessed state!

As he grew he was able to manage longer times of being up and doing. 

Getting frayed and fractious, bitey and snappy, is a sure sign of an overtired puppy who is unable to control himself. Time to pop him in his crate or playpen, leave him in peace and wait for him to awaken refreshed.

Older Dogs

And the same goes for older dogs. They need their beauty sleep! And they need much more than they’re usually allowed. Research has shown that an adult dog needs 17 hours of sleep a day to be mentally and physically healthy. 17 hours! How many dogs get that much sleep?

If your dog seems to be on the go the whole time, running himself ragged, chasing birds, chewing up anything he finds, alert at the smallest sound - you need to organise proper nap times, just as you would for a young child. Make them part of your routine so that your dog’s internal clock gets in sync with them.

At the moment I am working, so my dogs are all snoozing. They no longer need to be confined to a crate as they were as young puppies. There are many beds here and they are free to sleep where they will. 

How well do you feel after a good night’s sleep? Your dog needs much more than you do to feel as good! Check out this post to find out more. | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So Cricket the Whippet is sunbathing on the grass outside. Rollo the Border Collie is dozing in the shade. Coco is on a hammock bed near me, and Lacy is on the floor just behind my chair. 

Not only are they going to awake rested, but I can work undisturbed. I can pay lots of attention to them when I’m ready, and I know nothing in the house or garden will have been damaged.

Early crate training ensured that the only chewing they ever did was of the approved items (bones, toys) which lived in their crates. Establishing early habits like this is hugely helpful later on. The chewing habit doesn’t have to be broken because it never got out of hand!

Start on Day 1

So start as you mean to continue, with lots of naps throughout the day for your young pup or new rescue dog. This will build a lasting routine for your puppy, and help to build feelings of security and confidence for your new rescue dog (who doesn’t need to brave the big bad world yet. Not until she knows this is home and you can be trusted to keep her safe.)

Always start from where you are! We can’t alter the past. We can just assess the present situation, see where it needs to improve, and change the future.

Dogs need to sleep much longer than most people think. Find out how to get some much-needed peace and calm from your over-excited dog | FREE BOOK! | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #puppynipping, #newrescuedog, #doghealth, #dogbehavior, #dogsleep, #overexciteddog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

So your present dog, who races round all day and never sleeps, will need to start with short naps - gradually getting longer - with you still around. Feeding all meals in the crate will help her to love the place, and a foodtoy to lick and slurp while dozing off will be ideal. 

Teaching her how to relax on her mat will help her learn how to switch off. This book will show you how, in easy steps.

Yes, you can have a calm house and a relaxed dog. The first step is to sort out sleeping times.

Sleep is the great healer!


Check out our Free Courses and Courses pages to see how else you can help your mad dog become your Brilliant Family Dog!

Should my dog wear a muzzle?

Should my dog wear a muzzle? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

This is a question I get a lot. And it usually comes from people who really, deep down, know the answer. They just can’t bring themselves to take this step.

So first off - if your dog has bitten anyone or anything, or you fear he may bite - have sense and muzzle-train him. This is not only for safety, but also for the health of your heart-rate and possibly your bank balance, if things go badly wrong.

There are many useful occasions for a muzzle - a vet or groomer visit for an anxious dog is one. Far better for your dog to be used to his muzzle and arrive already wearing it, rather than be man-handled by staff putting a strange one on him. 

Then there’s the slug-muncher and stone-eater - and harvesters of other unmentionable stuff that some dogs take a fancy to! Rather than try and catch him and nag the whole time, just prevent it.

If you don’t want something to happen, don’t let it happen

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Some dogs can cope with people outside the house, but visitors inside the house terrify him. Give yourself and your dog a break by muzzling him before your guests arrive. Once you relax a bit because you know your friends and family aren’t going to be shredded and spat out on the carpet, your dog will have a better chance of relaxing too. Of course the dog must be happy to be there - not just forced in on the basis that he’s no longer dangerous!


But people will think my dog is nasty!

Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. (Maybe they do already.) If they’re strangers, do you really care? And if they’re friends, you can explain to them. 

One surefire thing about a muzzle is that it tends to keep people away - which is just what you want! They think your dog must be dangerous and therefore move their dogs and children aside, as well as themselves. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that your dog is actually the safest of all now! But this is a good outcome. Your anxious dog doesn’t need people/children/dogs in her face.

If you feel anxious yourself about muzzling your dog, think how you’ll feel if you relax your vigilance for a moment and your dog bites someone! Would that be worse? Definitely. Bite the bullet and just do it.


What sort of muzzle should I get?

There’s quite a variety of muzzles available. 

• Cloth muzzle: this is the sort that vets may put on a dog for a few moments while they treat her. It should never be on for long - or be put on an unsupervised dog - as it prevents the dog from panting or drinking, and is therefore dangerous. It’s also not advised for brachycephalic dogs (squashed-nose dogs, so popular at the moment) as they already struggle to breathe and these cloth muzzles have proved fatal in some cases for these dogs. So on no account get this one!

• Basket muzzle: what you need is a basket muzzle that allows your dog to open her mouth fully, to eat, drink, pant, and not feel constrained. But these vary hugely, and you need to get the right one for your dog.

Should I muzzle my dog? I’m worried that people will think my dog is aggressive and I’m a bad dog-owner! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

• Baskerville muzzles: perhaps the commonest. They don’t allow full opening of the mouth. The inability to pant could have serious consequences for a dog who needs to lower her body temperature. 

• Baskerville Ultra muzzle: is often the go-to muzzle as it’s widely available. But this doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your dog! They have an optional head-strap which can be useful for keeping the thing on, but they are really designed for brachycephalic dogs and are too short for longer-nosed dogs. See Lacy in hers. She hated it - you can see that in the photo. Any larger and it would have fallen off her face. 

 • Leather custom-made colourful muzzles: very expensive and they look pretty constricting to me. It looks hard to get treats in at the right moment (essential if you’re working on counterconditioning an anxious or fearful dog). But I know some people like them.

• Racing greyhound muzzle: my favourite, and the one Lacy is wearing in the other pictures. Made to measure, available in loads of colours, incredibly lightweight, it allows full opening of the mouth for even a gasping racing dog, treats are easy to administer, and most important - Lacy is very happy to wear it. She comes forward and puts her face in, as opposed to running and hiding as she did when she saw the Baskerville Ultra.

Bottom line: your dog should find the muzzle comfortable, it should be easy to slip on, secure, and allow your dog to drink, pant, eat treats, and possibly play.


Muzzles are ugly

They don’t need to be! You can decorate your dog’s muzzle any way you like. You can see I “girlified” Lacy’s black muzzle, and I’ve added a little fleece to the top of her pink racing muzzle in case it chafed. It never did, but I felt it was kinder to cushion it as sometimes she will be wearing it for a couple of hours at a time. 

You can use paint, stickers, ribbons, sparkly stuff (make sure it can’t flake into your dog’s eyes or nose) - anything that shows that your dog is loved.

 

I tried a muzzle once and my dog hated it and kept scrabbling at her face!

Wouldn’t you? If someone slapped a cage on your face without asking? 

Just as with any bit of dog gear - harness, collar, coat - you have to acclimatise your dog to this slowly. The idea is to associate the new thing with a steady flow of treats until your dog can’t wait to put her nose in! 

Start by treating her for just looking at it; then for sniffing it, then for touching it with her nose … and so on. Those three steps alone may take you three days or more! Go at your dog’s speed, don’t try to rush. 

The key is that your dog should always have the choice to move forward to interact with the muzzle. You’re not grabbing her and whamming it on!

There is an excellent how-to video in the Resources below. Do watch it then work through it step-by-step. Once you’re at the stage of putting the muzzle on before a walk, your dog will associate it with treats and a walk. 

This is the perfect ending - as long as your dog likes walks! If not, then have a look at some of the other Growly Dog posts here.


There is no stigma in being a responsible dog-owner!

Your muzzled dog will be able to enjoy group walks again! Find out here how to teach your dog to love wearing a muzzle | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #aggressivedog, #reactivedog, #dogtraining, #growlydog, #dogmuzzle, #dogmuzzletraining | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Don’t think you are appearing a bad owner if your dog is wearing a muzzle! You are being a responsible owner! You are acknowledging that your dog has difficulties in certain areas of her life and you are aiming for the best possible outcome. Never be ashamed of this. 

Muzzling your dog may allow him valuable off-lead time. This does depend on the level of his anxiety and the amount of behaviour modification training you’ve put in place. You must always think safety first. 

As you can see in the photo, a group walk can be made possible for a muzzle-trained dog. Ensure your dog is happy with the space between her and the other dogs so she doesn't feel trapped.

And it doesn’t mean the end of fun for your dog! I know dogs who wear the same muzzle as Lacy who can still play with their beloved toys as they can press down on the ground and get a grip on its “handle”. So a ball on a rope is the ideal solution for the toy-mad dog who needs to wear a muzzle.

Store your dog’s muzzle in a prominent place near your leads and harnesses. Put it on your dog proudly! Be glad of how much relief it brings you. And know you’re doing the right thing.

 

 

Resources

Muzzleupproject
Teach your dog to wear a muzzle with Chirag Patel
Racing muzzles
Doglaw - excellent dog-specific legal advice for the UK

Free 8-part email course for your Growly but Brilliant Family Dog!

 

 

 

 

All text and images © Copyright 2018 Beverley Courtney